Re: Constraints (was Re: Adaptationism's Lessons)

Paul Gallagher (
17 Sep 1996 18:38:32 -0400

In <51fj1g$> (Bryant) writes:

>Now days, drift's the explanation of last resort, after testable adaptation
>hypotheses are abandoned. As it should be. Otherwise, we abandon
>prediction-testing science and become conjecturing historians of life.

Didn't you look at the Lenski paper I recommended? That's not prediction
testing science? If there are multiple adaptive peaks adjacent to your
starting point, you can't make predictions based on selection. That was
in the Spandrels paper you said you read! Why do think stochastic models
aren't prediction testing science?

Besides, shouldn't you make predictions that will falsify a hypothesis,
not just make predictions? If "jealousy" is in the genes, we might
predict that jealousy should increase fitness - but if it turned out
jealousy didn't increase fitness, that wouldn't prove the hypothesis that
jealousy is in the genes, false. And somehow sociobiologists' commitment
to falsifiable science doesn't prevent them from publishing their
results as fact in textbooks, Time magazine, the National Review, the
literature of the National Front in Britain...

>Gould's indeed contributed to evolutionary theory. But he has, as others
>have pointed out, offered mostly minor corrections, not revolutionary
>insights. Most of these corrections were articulated long before Gould,
>yet he still credits himself with them (e.g., the "Panda Principle" I
>mentioned earlier in this thread).

Who's the judge of what's a minor correction, and what's a revolutionary
insight? Since your reading of the Spandrels paper differs markedly from
my own - you seem to see in it only a "straw man" of optimization theory -
our understandings of Gould and Lewontin may differ markedly as well.